5.31.2007

It's the little things...

This morning my husband had to be out of the house early (um, 7 am is early for us). As I laid in bed and tried to ignore him looking for a matching pair of socks (my bad), opening and closing his armoire, sitting on the bed, then standing up then sitting down again, changing channels on the tv and doing all this in a very unquiet manner as if there were not seven other people asleep, I peeked at him with one crusty eye and I realized how much I love him. Eleven years of waking up and knowing that I have this man in my life that makes me laugh, that takes care of me, that looks at our children with the same wonder that I do...a man that possesses a very sensitive and tender heart.

A few days ago, I rearranged our bedroom furniture so the bed is right under the window. I do this every season when the weather gets warm. It is so relaxing to go to sleep at night and feel the cool breeze blow over you. As I laid there, listening to Michael get in the van and prepare to drive off, he pulled near our bedroom window and turned up this song that was playing on the radio. Musiq Soulchild's "Don't Change". I scrambled up on my knees, pulled the curtain aside, gave him a sleepy smile and I blew him a kiss. God, I do love that man.

5.29.2007

Lady Sings the Blues

When I was a little girl, about six or seven years old, my father had his music albums stacked in a corner of his studio in our little house in San Diego. It was always sunny there, and our front yard was covered with dates that fell from the towering palm trees. While he sat there reading a book or working on an art project, I sat on the floor quietly thumbing through those albums. I was drawn to the art, the pictures and the stories they told. Two albums in particular have been seared onto my mind's eye. One was Queen's News of the World. That one in particular terrified me with it's great iron giant, wreaking havoc on people and squeezing the life out of poor Freddie Mercury. I used to have nightmares after looking at this album.

The other was Lady Sings the Blues. Since it was a soundtrack to a movie, it was thick with pictures of Diana Ross as the embodiment of Billie Holiday, with her lovely hooded eyes and the gardenia in her hair. I must have looked at this album hundreds of times. From the pictures of Ross as a skinny, young girl singing by a record player to a heroin-addicted, crazed woman in a strait-jacket, I was fascinated. And the music, so beautiful and smooth and haunting, it always made me feel a sense of sadness and yearning.

Fifteen years later, I was still listening to that beautiful and haunting music. I was your typical melancholy college student, listening to that cd while I was draped over my bed, feeling heartbroken. Loverman, oh where can you be? This soundtrack isn't like the ones we are accustomed to hearing today, where it is produced and performed in a studio. The cd is basically clips from the movie. You can hear bits from the movie itself, with the actor's voices in the background while Diana Ross is singing, especially on the tracks where she is performing in this bar, across the street from the brothel where she worked. "Ooooooh, you gonna hafta do betta than that, girly!" It's awesome.

A couple of weeks ago, on one of those excursions to Target with Moms, we came across Lady Sings the Blues on dvd. My mom loves this movie, too. Needless to say we snatched it up. And it was delicious, just delicious. My mom's favorite part (and one of mine) is when Billy Dee Williams is holding out a dollar bill for Billie to pick up her first night performing at the club. She's afraid to take it, thinking he will snatch it away when she reaches out for it. But he doesn't. Instead, he sticks his head forward in the light, all shiny, white teeth and handsome, chocolatey goodness, "You want my arm to fall off?"

That is just good times. If you haven't seen this movie and love jazz and Billie Holiday, check it out.

5.28.2007

So fresh and so clean...

Ain't nobody dope as me, I'm just so fresh so clean.

This Outkast song reminds me of how I feel when I clean my house. So fresh and so clean. I wish I was one of those people who didn't mind a mess. But I do. Alot. I would probably have a much simpler life if I just didn't care.

Let me clarify, I'm not fanatically clean. All of my things are not compulsively organized. It just really bothers me to see things messy or dirty. There are times when I am chilling on my sofa, watching a movie. I glance over to my antique buffet and I stare at the dust bunnies underneath. Ugh, I have to sweep those up. Back to the movie. Then I peek at the bunnies. Right now I will walk into the pantry and get the dustmop. And back to the movie again. Then, it will just take me a minute to sweep those up. Movie. Gawd, I hate dust bunnies. Movie. Must sweep. Movie. I should just turn the movie off and then move all the furniture and clean the dust bunnies from the entire house. Damn, I sound crazy. But I'm really not. I just get a fleeting sense of order and control when things are tidy and clean. I can have screaming, ranting, raving, hungry, squabbling, crying, wild, bad ass kids running around...but if my wood floors are clean, I am good. At least I have control of something around here.

I get fits just thinking about streaks on the walls, dirty baseboards, dusty ceiling fan blades, greasy light fixtures in the kitchen, peepee toilets, sticky floors, a smudged refrigerator. I know, I know, crazy. Why did you have all these chil'rens if you are going to freak out at the mess of living? Good question, but I don't have an answer for you. I have managed to attain a balance. I know everything cannot stay clean and I know that I can't possibly get to everything and clean it. So I live with a degree of messiness. But dammit if I don't feel wonderful when everything is so fresh and so clean. Wonderful, I tell you!

I have gone into people's homes and I am astounded that they aren't even slightly embarrassed that they are living in filth. Bathrooms where I've had to pee in the air and I am terrified to peek beyond the mildewy shower curtain. Kitchens with layers of grime, dust and grease and funky potatoes and bananas with fruit flies buzzing around. Livingrooms musty as hell with furniture with food stains all over it. And bedrooms, don't get me started on bedrooms. When there is a dirt outline of your nasty ass body on your sheets...it's time to wash them, yo! I visit relatives who have grease and dirt-smudged walls up and down their hallway. I can't help but think to myself, why not spray that down and wipe it? I mean, it would take you, like, ten seconds! I have another relative that, when we went to visit them, had boxes and bins all over their house, stacks and stacks of papers and mail and bills and crap. I'm thinking, maybe they just moved in. No, that is how they lived on a daily basis. They literally had one-way trails to make the path through their house. It kinda freaked me out. And they aren't old, eccentric people either. They are a young couple with two small children. I just can't figure out how people function like that.

And you are probably thinking how in the world do I function with seven other people in the house? From what I have seen, I ain't doing so bad. I have friends with "large families". Six, seven, sometimes eight kids. We crazy breeders have to stick together sometimes. Just to find out who is the craziest and all. Heh. One that comes to mind lives in a house where the entire house is made up of mismatched furniture from the 80's. On the walls were kid's posters and drawings. Legos everywhere. Kids videos everywhere. Sippy cups everywhere. Socks and shoes strewn everywhere. There is no kind of decor or thought into how anything looks. It's purely for function. But my dear friend, she is happy. She doesn't care about any of that. I kind of wish I was more like her.

I have cultivated this sort of stubborness about my home. I want it to look a certain way. I am happy when it is decorated with new, fresh things. I am sad when those new, fresh things get old, crusty and out of season. Over the years, I've told myself that my house shouldn't have to look like a daycare center just because we have seven children. I want a normal house. Whatever normal means. When my mismatched-furniture friend came to visit with her brood of six children one day, she walked in and observed everything. I heard her say, almost to herself, "You actually have plates hanging on your walls..." as if I was this freak or something. I guess I am, to an extent. I have white towels and white throw rugs in my bathroom. I have antique pottery hanging from my walls, on my buffet. I have antique glass in my windowsills. If you are wondering, my kids are accustomed to it and they don't ever pay attention to it or mess with it. Other people's kids though, they are always gunning for the china in my antique buffet. Heathens.

Regardless of what your family size is, your home should be a reflection of who you are and what is important to you. I have lots of kids and lots of pottery. You got beef? Which brings me back to my original point...all that pottery and all that antique glass and furniture and stuff needs to be cleaned, ya know. Michael thinks we should pay someone to come in and clean. He found someone that is willing to do it for $50 a pop. That's nice and all. I would love that. That would lift a ton of work off my shoulders. I wouldn't burst a hemmorhoid every time one of my kids spills lemonade on my freshly mopped floor. I won't have to pull a Mommie Dearest and throw ajax everywhere. I just might be able to be one of those moms who are dressed up in the middle of the day, with a bag full of yummy snacks, relaxing at the park with their kids. Sigh. When we can pay our utility bills without getting a pink notice, we'll reconsider. Until then, I will just have to keep scrubbing and mopping and dusting and striving along until the end of the day when I am half dead. Then I will peek over at the dusty pottery and smudged walls and go uuggggggggghhhhhhh. I wish it was clean. So fresh and so clean.

5.25.2007

Toca



Have you heard of Toca? They are a band from Los Angeles. I wish I could accurately describe what kind of music they play...the best I have to offer is indie/experimental/rock/hip hop/mexican folk/psychedelic. It is truly creative music and to me, there is nothing more inspiring than people who aren't afraid to express their creativity, even if it is light-years ahead of what is out there. You won't be hearing Toca on the radio anytime soon, and that's how I like it.

One of the vocalists is none other than Danny, also known as Xololanxinxo from Of Mexican Descent. He just happens to be my husband's compadre. They grew up together. When I met Michael, he and Danny were roommates. They slept in the same room and used clean laundry to cover themselves as blankets. They didn't even own a refrigerator. They would stay up in the wee hours of the morning and record themselves talking, laughing, singing, rapping, vibing. Danny is one of the most original and creative people I have ever met (second to my sweetcheeks). He is funny as hell and is full of game. On the night Michael and I progressed from friends to soul lovers, Danny was his wing-man. He kept my best friend entertained as he nibbled on her ankle in a very funny, non-sexual way. I am totally serious. Game, I tell you! One interesting fact, Danny didn't care for the idea of Michael and I being together. He was pulling for the ex, since they already had a baby together. Ha...that is hilarious. He said there was something about my eyes. Mwahahahahahahahaha. It's all good, no hard feelings Danny, as you can see I have let that all go. Ahem. It's all love.

So lend them your ear. They're dope.

5.23.2007

Fakeness vs. real beauty

I can’t stand it anymore. Living in Southern California, I am bombarded with fakeness everywhere I turn. It’s no longer confined to the pages of glossy entertainment rags or movie screens...it’s buying a Java Chip Frappachino at Starbucks, it’s shopping for toilet paper at Target, it’s buying organic strawberry lemonade at Trader Joe’s and it's sitting next to you at church. Artificially-enhanced people are everywhere. Ack. I don’t know what it is, but the desire to look like you just walked out of a plastic surgeon’s office and/or adult film is really popular right now.

You know the look I am talking about...big breast implants with tons of cleavage, plumped up lips not found in nature, orange or golden skin in the middle of November, long, highlighted hair with lots of layers...and bones, skin and bones. So skinny they are sorta hunched over, but dammit baby, they are thin so they must look good. Oh, and let's not forget that little purse everyone owns, with the fake C insignia all over it. Come on, I've been to a Coach store and half these heifers rocking these bags could not afford to own one. You know you can think of about five people that fit the description I just gave.




About ten years ago you could spot a rack of fake boobs like nothin’. They just weren’t that common. They stood out like sore thumbs. They were usually attached to some poor soul with bleached blond hair and high heels and they were probably a stripper. I don’t know if the reason behind the fact that it wasn’t as common was because it was a procedure that cost way too much for your average Joe to afford, or because it just wasn’t something a normal person contemplated. Plastic surgery was for porn stars, strippers, the Hollywood elite or rich, old white ladies. I mean, now you can listen to the radio and hear of specials and bundle deals for plastic surgery, so it is now available and acceptable for the masses.

Let me tell you how serious this epidemic has gotten….it has spread everywhere, even to the ghetto, yo! I know a young woman who lives in the hood (and by hood I mean, drive-by’s are common and old sofas are on the street corners where bums chill and drink their hooch) with her two kids. She isn't with the baby daddy. She stays in a duplex with her mama, her brother, his baby mama and their four kids and a colony of roaches. She is the kind of around-the-way girl with a big booty, wearing those platform sandals from the indoor swapmeet and uses dark lip liner to line the outer edge of her lips (which she doesn’t bother to fill in). She works at a doctor’s office, you know, by graduating from one of those Bryman schools that play commercials ad nauseum during the day, in between Maury Povich and Divorce Court (“…get off your butt and do something for yourself, call Bryman now!"). Well, she just got breast implants. And these aren't cheap discount chi-chi’s either. She paid six G’s for her pair. Wow. I am speechless. I’ve seen them, because she posted pictures of herself and her new purchase all over her myspace. Wow, again I am speechless. You’d think moving out of yo mama’s ghetto, roach-infested duplex would be a goal but hey, a girl has to have priorities, right? I know another woman who used to be really fat. Then she had her fourth kid and decided she wanted to do something about her looks. She lost about a hundred pounds, got her nose done, enhanced her lips and yes, she looks fabulous. I could hardly recognize her. Now I hear she is getting a tummy tuck from losing all the weight so quickly (see I knew there was a benefit to being chubby, at least it’s a firm chub). She is also going to add a boob job to her order, since the four chil’rens she bore left the old girls a tad saggy. Hmmph.

What really intrigues me about this whole phenomena is the reason why these people do this. Beyond the high cost and the health risk, what motivates women to go under the knife? What is it about our culture that abhors aging and ugliness, yet thinks nothing about injecting substances into our faces, spraying chemicals on our skin, slicing fat off our stomachs, sucking chub off our asses with a vacuum hose and adding silicone bags into our chest? Who, or should I say what, determines our standard for beauty?

Where are the men who are willing to stand up, put aside their porn star ideals and embrace their woman for looking like just that, a woman. A real woman doesn't have hair with two distinct colors like a skunk. You can't see the outline of a bony ribcage on a real woman's chest. A real woman is proud to have the journey of her child etched on her stomach. If her breasts hang low, she should feel a sense of accomplishment because these bad boys fed and nourished children. A real woman should enjoy her big booty, because her man surely does and haven't you heard? Fat asses are in. Real women take care of their skin and are comfortable in whatever skin color God gave them, 'cuz orange ain't pretty, girlfriend. A woman's beauty is not determined by her youthfulness or sexual magnetism...a woman's beauty should be reflected from her soul so it has the opportunity to radiate to others around her.

Oh, and the whole Coach bag scenario, please let me share a funny story. My mom got a fake Coach bag (from New York!) as a gift. She loves it and gets lots of compliments on it. Only a few of us know her dirty little secret. A couple of months ago, while at a birthday party, my brother and I were were stunned to find my friend's old and decrepit Chihuahua using my mom's Coach bag as a comfy bed to snuggle in. After my brother shooed the dog away, we laughed and told my friend where we found her dog. She said, "Oh, he's always doing that. He doesn't like the feeling of putting his butt on a cold surface." So there you go, the fake Coach also doubled as a dog's ass warmer. Heh.

Let me clarify on the whole fake issue, I'm not a hater. It just kinda freaks me out to see more and more people changing their appearance. Not everyone looks better than when they first started out. So how does this blog solve my fakeness problem? I don't know. I guess it doesn't. But I'm thinking I should move somewhere else somewhere far, far away from Southern Cali, preferably near some hillbillies and/or mountain women. At least I'll be the only chick there who still has all her teeth. How's that for beautiful?

5.21.2007

Awwwwww, G-Lo!

Well, this sucks.

The George Lopez show was "unceremoniously" cancelled. Check out this article, "ABC Network Has Failed Latinos".

G-Lo has been sending out myspace bulletins titled, "Let us not go quietly into the dark night.", encouraging his fans to protest ABC. I liked his show, even if I didn't get to watch it all the time. In the beginning, I thought it was pretty generic, but over the years, the show has become more real. It was hella funny. George Lopez is hilarious. When he speaks about his family, he is speakin' the truth about Chicanos.

Seeing as how I'm primitive and don't have cable TV, I haven't seen his HBO special. So I didn't get why all the people on his myspace were saying, FTP! FTP! FTP! So I am wracking my brain, what the hell does FTP mean? Finally, I just googled the stupid thing. Come to find out what it means....it's baaaaaaaaad and my mama would wash my mouth out with soap if she heard me say it. So, you will just have to look it up for yourself. Or....you can just watch this YouTube clip. Heh. But it has lots of foul language so, watcha!

5.15.2007

'Usbands and babies

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who you know thinks the way you live your life is strange? That your philosophy in life and the way your children are being raised is questionable? That or they feel like maybe you are just ignorant and need to be set straight? Ugh. I have. It ain't pretty.

Granted, I live a life that may seem on the fringe to some people. You know, actually married. Seven chil'ren. Same daddy. Only one "working" parent in the home. And the kids stay home with me all day, as I attempt some sort of education for them. I believe that children learn at their own pace, so I am not cramming phonics and sentence structuring and world history down their throats every day. I cook real food. There are only two TVs in the entire house, without cable. No video games to speak of, save a tiny gameboy that I am constantly hiding. I like herbs and homeopathic remedies. I believe the Bible is the infallible word of God. And the cherry on top of all this crazy is that Michael left his job of nine years to finally launch his own business. Some people just can't believe we live like this. Or why we would want to. Some days, I can't either.

Sure, on paper I might sound like a fundamentalist freak but I swear I don't own a denim jumper, oversize glasses, grind my own wheat and wear my hair in a mullet like some of the people that have similar beliefs as mine. It's tough to find yourself in a conservative christian paradigm and yet be so different from other people who have been classified the same way. And in many ways, I don't want to be.

But back to the annoying conversation...I have a daughter who loves to go on and on about getting married, finding a "usband", dancing with her "usband", and having babies in her tummy. Whenever she sees her daddy give me a kiss, she says, "I want a 'usband', so he can give me kisses too, mama!" It's like this little light twinkles in her eye. She plays throughout the day with her baby dolls and she is a very conscientious mama, wrapping her babies in their blankets and talking to them softly, while wearing her platform, furry slippers. I laugh because I have never actually sat her down and told her she should be a wife or a mother when she grows up. I haven't told her to resign herself that this is her lot in life, and she should learn how to keep house and cook because that is all her future holds for her. I haven't indoctrinated my daughter. But it is obvious that my daughter is directly influenced by what I value in this life...my husband and my children. And she embraces it.

So while at a bbq a couple of weeks ago, some friends were amused at Maya's aspirations for her life. Someone took it upon themself to pull my daughter to the side and ask her, "Now, Maya...what else do you want to do with your life? Do you want to be a scientist? A lawyer? What about a doctor? You can be anything you want to be! Finding a husband and having babies...that's going to happen before you know it." And Maya looked at her like she was speaking a foreign language, smiled an obligatory smile and ran off to jump into the wading pool with her bikini bottom endearingly stuffed in her crack.

I'm not going to lie, it kinda chapped my ass. Who knows, maybe I was being sensitive. First of all, Maya is three years old. She also enjoys eating toothpaste. Second of all, I don't believe in that whole humanistic belief that "you can be whatever you want to be" because it's simply isn't true. We are only going to excel if it is what God wants us to be and if it is what God created us to be, according to the gifts and talents He has given us. And so what if my daughter values being "only" a wife and mother? At the end of this life, what is going to be a true test of a woman's worth and character? How many promotions she got at work? How many diplomas she has on her wall? How many businesses she started up? No. The kind of wife and mother she was in this life is going to be her testimony, one that is going to affect the future generations. And sometimes we are too limited in our thinking to see this.

So that night, as Maya was getting dressed for bed, I told her, "Mami, it is a good thing to want a godly husband and to have a baby in your tummy. God says that families are a blessing. If you wanted to do other things in your life, that is good too. But your most important job is going to be a wife and a mama, okay?" And we gave each other a kiss, I prayed for her and turned out the light.

Sweet dreams, baby girl.

5.07.2007

You better work, B#&@*!


Right off the bat let me just say, I am not a huge TV fan. I can name the shows I watch on a regular basis on one hand. Granted, my viewing pleasure has gone down considerably since we got rid of DirectTV and my beloved TiVo (may he rest in peace). I mean, come on, how much fun is it to watch primitive TV? Commercials, public television, snow on channel six. Yes, you heard right, snow.

Suuuuuucks.

What I do watch, I try to catch online so I don't have to mess with sitting there at 8 pm trying to concentrate over naked kids running around (fresh from the bathtub and still looking for underwear) or dirty, smelly kids (with brown, dirt-encrusted feet and toenails) trying to relax next to me on the sofa until it's their turn to take a bath. No, I don't think so.

But there is one show that I try not to miss. Ever. Every Wednesday night, without fail and with a religious fervor, I watch America's Next Top Model. Sure, some of you holier than thou fools will say, what about wednesday night bible study? Harvest is like, three minutes away from your house! True dat. Buuuuuuut, that is why I attend small group on thursday nights! And the chil'rens go to mid-week study with Grandma-mama to give me a break and I won't have any naked-child distractions. Holla!

I've been watching ANTM since cylce one. What can I say, I love me some Tyra! I've been hooked ever since. My favorite aspect about the show is the creative side. I love to see behind the scenes where the girls are getting their hair and make-up done with the stylists. I also enjoy the photographers and the final shots at the end of the show. And the runway shows are always fierce. ANTM takes me back to my fag-hag days. Oh, I ain't gonna lie, I also love the drama. The drama of twelve chicks who all think they are the shiznit, who steal each other's granola bars, who fight over the phone, who cry at the drop of a dime, who are so damn skinny I don't think I have ever seen anyone in real life their size--except for eleven year old girls. And the plus size models....wow, size 12/14 is plus size, eh? Then I could have been a plus size model at like, twelve years old or something! Heh. But these "plus size" gals have it rough--compared to all these skeletons, they look like heifers.

As I have done every season, I always pick a favorite. This year it's my girl Jaslene. Homegirl is 100% ghetto AND she's a Latina, so you know she gets my vote. There is usually one token Latina on every cycle of ANTM, but none have made it to the top four. So I am excited! I still cringe everytime she opens her mouth and speaks, though. Oh so cha-cha.


Go Jaslene. You better work, work it girl, do your thing on the runway...sashay shante!

5.05.2007

Spiderman 3


Last night we went to the drive-in to see the much anticipated and long-awaited Spiderman 3. When you live in a home with six boys (Daddy included), there is pretty much no way I can escape these types of flicks. If anything has to do belching, nuts (testicles--not the kind you sprinkle on a sundae), knives, swords, X-Men, skating, bike-riding, farting, breakdancing, wrestling and Marvel comics, my boys are all over it.

Spiderman 3 was no exception.

Ever since they heard they were coming out with a part three they begged me to go and see it. So when the grandparents offered to join us at the drive-in on opening night, of course I couldn't say no, even thought I didn't get a chance to screen it. I was really hoping there wouldn't be any cursing or unneccessary sexual innuendo.

Since it was opening night we got there about an hour and half early and we still had to wait in a long line. Once we got a good spot and settled in, Grandma-mama (what the kids call my mom) began the arduous task of passing out food...about a hundred cheeseburgers, french fries, chicken strips, juice pouches, nachos, ice cream sundaes and apple pies. Everyone was sitting on their camping chairs and their cozy blankets, fighting over who got more chicken strips and fries.My kids don't know how good they have it.

Back in the day when I was a little girl, wherever we went--the Dodger game, the river, the park, Disneyland, the movies, the zoo--I had to endure my mom pulling out homemade foil-wrapped burritos. Sometimes they were chile verde with beans, other times they were shredded beef with beans and rice. But usually they were chorizo, potatoes and beans. Hmmm, do you see a theme here with the beans? I often wondered why we couldn't just go to McDonalds like "normal" families did, but I usually ate my burrito and was thankful for my full belly. It wasn't until I was a teenager that it really used to embarrass me. I remember sitting at Dodger stadium one night when I was 16 and my mom pulled out HOT DOGS and Pepsi from her bag. Thank God she at least brought cans and not a liter bottle. You want one? You better eat one now because I'm not buying you anything later. Eat it! I don't want to hear you complain that you're hungry later on. Needless to say, I was mortified. But this, of course, wouldn't be the first time.

I have to say, the movie was pretty good. I got a big kick out of the fact that Peter Parker turned Emo. Hair in his eyes, all-black wearing, eyeliner and everything. It was pretty sweet! One thing, though, I am so over Kirsten Dunst. Time for them to supply us with a new MJ. Loved James Franco...I grossed out my little brother by saying he was "hot". Oh, and I didn't even know that Topher Grace was in this movie, so that was a pleasant surprise. Overall, I recommend the movie. I wasn't at all bored senseless like I usually am during movies like these.

5.02.2007

Always Running


In keeping with the theme of yesterday, May Day, the title of my last post and the marches in various places in the country, I thought I would share a little excerpt from a book I just finished reading. Raquel shared this book with me last week and I couldn't put it down.

Always Running by Luis J. Rodriguez is about a young boy involved in East L.A. street gangs in the 60's and 70's. What really gripped my interest is the way the author described the migration of Mexican families, how they were driven to unincorporated areas in the city and were forced to live in decrepit shacks, with dirt roads and sometimes no running water or heat. School building were literally falling down and Spanish speaking children were sometimes considered retarded. It's like they were in a little world within a world, the miles from Hollywood to East L.A spanning like a million. Beat up by their mother land, beat up in their new country and then beat up by the people around them who looked down on them for their brown skin and their native tongue. Joining a gang was as simple as breathing air. There were few choices. Reading this enabled me to understand the dynamics of my family, of my uncles and my grandfather.

Seeing the thousands of brown faces march the streets on the news yesterday, I couldn't help but think of what I read in Rodriguez's book. The simple words speak volumes, even fifteen years later.

Our first exposure in America stays with me like a foul odor. It seemed a strange world, most of it spiteful to us, spitting and stepping on us, coughing us up, us immigrants, as if we were phlegm stuck in the collective throat of this country.

Did you grasp that? That was deep.

"So now I'm rollin' down Rodeo with a shotgun..."

"...these people ain't seen a brown skin man since their grandparents bought one!!"

Dude. Don't mind me. I'm still on my Rage high.

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